By: Justin Felisko
August 17, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – The Built Ford Tough Series resumes on Friday night at 9 p.m. ET with the Frontier Communications Music City Knockout, presented by Cooper Tires. It will be the first time since Last Cowboy Standing in May that the Top 35 bull riders in the world will gather to compete in the same event. Some riders spent the months in-between hitting the summer grind full steam ahead, while others took some time off to recover from the first 16 BFTS events of the season.
Here is a look at some of the standout performers from the break.
OUTLAW’S SUMMER ROBBERY
Chase Outlaw has to be dying for a chance to be healthy for an entire season. Last year, Outlaw was able to qualify for the 2015 Built Ford Tough Series World Finals despite only competing in 14 events after undergoing right reconstructive shoulder surgery in April. This year, Outlaw may also qualify for the World Finals for a fifth consecutive season despite missing the first six months of the season because of left reconstructive shoulder surgery in November.
So how on earth has Outlaw put himself in the World Finals conversation again?
Well, Outlaw simply went on a ferocious summer run that featured the 24-year-old winning seven summer events, going 25-for-49 and rising to 29thin the world standings by earning a summer-high 512.5 points.
He is making his 2016 BFTS debut this weekend at the Frontier Communications Music City Knockout, presented by Cooper Tires.
“Man, there were quite a few tough events, especially when me and Ty Pozzobon were traveling together,” Outlaw said. “It was me and him first and second every weekend. We did great traveling together this whole summer. Me and him were pushing one and another. Every weekend it would be me or him winning. I would like to think we really pushed each other. Ty isn’t too far outside the Top 35 too.”
Pozzobon, also a summer winner, earned 260 points this summer and is up to 40th in the world standings. He was 42.5 points shy of being the final alternate for Nashville.
NANCE REGAINING HIS FORM
2009 Rookie of the Year Cody Nance had a rough first half of the 2016 season. He was 10-for-35 and his 28.57 percent riding percentage was the second-lowest of his eight-year career.
However, Nance has appeared to regain his form by riding 52.63 percent of his summer bulls. He earned the second-most summer points among riders competing in Nashville with 327.5 points since Last Cowboy Standing. Nance won three TPD events, posted 11 Top-5 finishes and moved from 31st to 24th in the world standings.
“I don’t look at it as momentum because I am here and now, I am not there yet,” Nance said in Big Sky, Montana, about heading to Nashville with momentum. “I am enjoying the process it takes to get there. I will take it one bull at a time and I will do the same thing there.”
RICHARDSON DOMINATES DOWN UNDER
Lachlan Richardson has already set a career-high with 12 qualified rides on the BFTS this season and he built off his first-half success with an even stronger showing in his native Australia. Richardson earned 260 of his 270 world summer points at PBR Australia events. He went 14-for-24 (66.66) at summer PBR Australia and U.S. events.
HARR CLOSING IN ON FIRST WORLD FINALS QUALIFICATION
Tyler Harr missed out on qualifying for his first career World Finals last year on the final day of the regular season at the BlueDEF Tour Finals. This year, Harr has every intention of making sure his World Finals aspiration don’t come down to the wire.
The 26-year-old moved from 34th in the world standings to 27th by earning 242.5 points toward the world standings this summer. Harr won three TPD events.
“I ain’t looking in the rear view,” Harr said. “I am looking in the front view. I am not worried about what happened last year. I am in the climb and am happy to be there and want to keep moving forward. I am not worried about last year. This year has been a record year for me and this is the best I have ever rode. Things have been clicking. I started entering less and planning on winning more. I am taking breaks in between events and trying to stay healthier.”
ASTEROID GAINING STEAM HEADING INTO BFTS STRETCH RUN
2012 World Champion Bull Asteroid will likely need to earn one of the potential two Wild Card World Champion Bull contender positions if he hopes to have a shot at winning a second world title based on his BFTS average bull score (43.67).
PBR Director of Livestock admitted Tuesday he hasn’t put much thought into the Wild Card positions and added that he won’t until the end of the season when the seven World Champion Bull contenders based upon their best eight season bull scores are finalized.
Still, Lambert said he watched the video of Asteroid’s 46.5-point outing against Jess Lockwood in Bismarck, North Dakota, and his 46.5-point outing against Nance in Big Sky, Montana.
“I watched him and Bismarck and Big Sky and he was very, very good at both of them,” Lambert said. “He looked really good. He looked like he was ready to go and he was into it. When Chad (Berger) got him, he looked as good as ever and then he looked sluggish. I don’t know if he got his body sore or if his back got sore or if his muscles were sore from bucking. I don’t know what it was. I am not saying Asteroid won’t be a contender for the World Championship this year, but I am not even saying he is going to be at the Finals either. If he slows down he won’t be. Neither will be Air Time or anyone else if they are not deserving a spot.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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